In Marcia Clark’s first attempt at fiction, she has produced a well-crafted legal mystery set in the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, a setting Ms. Clark knows well. Protagonist Rachel Knight must deal with her assigned cases as a member of the DA’s Special Trials Unit, which handles high profile cases, as well as the murder of her friend and co-worker, a case she has been specifically told to stay away from.
Although this novel contains all the tension and grittiness one would expect in a story that takes the reader from sleazy motel rooms, to the wealthy Palisades neighborhood, to the turf of rival gangs, I was impressed that Ms. Clark has chosen to make her three main characters female. The women work together, or not, depending on the roles of each, with a smoothness that seems to say, “This is just the way it is.”
The case to which Rachel is officially assigned involves the rape of the fifteen year old daughter of a prominent pediatrician, who just happens to have political connections to the chief DA. As she interviews the family, she discovers discrepancies in their stories as well as prejudices that could lead to the conviction of the wrong person. Rachel balances on the edge between the expectations of her boss and her own hunches as she uses all her skills to get to the bottom of both cases and still keep her job.
Clark has created a character who hurts, celebrates, loves, hates and upsets her superiors and her friends. She breaks rules and asks for favors. But ultimately she puts the pieces together, even as she risks her own life.
Rachel Knight’s appeal is not so much that she is a super crime solver, which she is, but she is so very human. I look forward to more of Rachel Knight in future novels by Marcia Clark.
(Published in Suspense Magazine)